The Stories We Tell . . .

“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter, ‘til they bloom, ‘til you yourself burst into bloom.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD

I am interested in how we narrate our lives – in the stories we tell.  When someone looks at us and asks us who we are, certain memories and stories rise into consciousness.   The stories that define us, those experiences that played the largest role in shaping who we believe ourselves to be.  

Depending on where we’re at in the present moment – the feelings of the day, the sleep we had last night – the stories we attach to will support that underlying mood.  Vulnerable? We will linger in stories of how we have been hurt. Angry? In stories about how we’ve been wronged. Our feelings and the stories we share weave a powerful connection. Feeling hopeless?  Stories about how we never accomplished that one thing we so badly desired… It is a powerful tendency. We usually tell the stories that support our current mood, and fall to narrating our lives unconsciously.

I wonder: can we reverse this tendency?  Can I determine how I want to feel – strong, playful, enlightened, and courageous?  Can I find my stories that will help me to embody those characteristics? Can I see that who I am today – the strong, the courageous, the brave – was actually built through the trials of yesterday?  Can I see that the thing that most hurt me when I was 5 years old has manifested into my greatest strength? This is the true power and possibility of narrating life my way.

What characteristics do I authentically wish to live by now?  Perseverance, creativity, fearlessness, guts, and humility. Where did I develop these characteristics and what are the experiences that created that possibility in me?  As I listen closely, my mind wanders to a job at a factory, an improv class, community theater, travelling alone, and facing the death of both of my parents. Through the years, these characteristics have strengthened in me; and through telling these stories with vulnerability, strength, and fearlessness, I will strengthen myself.   I will strengthen myself by the stories that I tell.